Penn State picked up its first Big Ten victory after an 0-5 start, downing Rutgers, 75-67, Thursday night in the 400th men’s basketball game at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Cory Giger’s quick takes from the game:
**The Big Ten can chew up and spit out teams, even good teams or teams that were good at one point. Remember when Michigan State started league play 0-3? The Spartans were in the top 5 earlier this season before that skid.
Rutgers was ranked as high as No. 11 in the country after a 6-0 start that included wins over Illinois and at Maryland.
Now? Rutgers has lost five in a row, and for most of Thursday’s game at Penn State, looked absolutely terrible. That’s what the grind of the league will do to these college players, and it’s even more so during this crazy season dealing with COVID.
“Greatest league in the country, by far,” PSU interim coach Jim Ferry said after Thursday’s win. “It’s not even close. It’s not even close.”
Ferry added: “The league is so good, sometimes it comes down to matchups in this league. … You’ve got to be able to move quickly, whether you win or lose. You’ve got to come out, and whoever plays best that night is gonna win, and I think that’s proven out through every single game in this league.”
**To their credit, the Lions came out fired up and ready to play well at home despite their 0-5 start in the league. Penn State has played pretty well in most of its Big Ten games but laid an egg last time out at Illinois.
PSU came out and played a terrific first half, something we’ve come to expect over the years at the Jordan Center. The Lions showed good fight and certainly looked like a team that came ready to play. Rutgers did not. The Scarlet Knights were sloppy and lethargic for the first 30 minutes in falling behind by 18 (54-36).
**Like an old movie we’ve seen time and time again, Penn State fell apart after building a big lead and watched as Rutgers nearly fought all the way back. The Lions kept missing shots and saw their interior defense get shredded for a good stretch of the second half as Rutgers pulled as close as four.
If the game had gone another five minutes, Rutgers very well might have won. But in this 40-minute game, Penn State’s 18-point lead held up, delivering the first Big Ten win.
**The Lions won playing without Myles Dread, who was injured and wearing a sling on his arm. Dread suffered the injury in the previous game at Illinois.
“It was a freak play,” Ferry said. “Myles hit Kofi (Cockburn) on his head, and his shoulder popped out a little bit.”
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